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The Board of County Commissioners took action that affected the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s office, the Juvenile Detention Center, and prisoner death lawsuits Wednesday.

Sheriff’s move

In the ongoing transition process of the Jail, the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office (OSCO) will have to move law enforcement headquarters out of the Jail and into a new facility.

The Oklahoma County Detention Center Transition Committee recommended that a “Request for Proposals” be issued regarding a new space for the OSCO.

But, the committee also stated that it was their belief “that the Krowse Building is the most appropriate place for relocation at this time.”

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During discussion of the item, District 2 Commissioner Brian Maughan said that he hasn’t considered selling the Krowse Building and District 1 Commissioner Carrie Blumert concurred.

District 3 Chief Deputy Myles Davidson, sitting in for Commissioner Kevin Calvey, explained that District 3 had received a letter from the Oklahoma Military Department expressing interest in purchasing or leasing-to-own the Krowse Building. District 3 urged the issuing of an RFP to see if there was a better deal or more appropriate place for the Sheriff’s relocation.

In the past, there have been a number of parties who have expressed interest in leasing the Krowse property, but as of yet, none have entered a lease.

County Commissioner Carrie Blumert
Oklahoma County Commissioner Carrie Blumert (Brett Dickerson/Okla City Free Press)

Blumert told Free Press that she has not seen the letter mentioned by Davidson at today’s meeting.

“It’s my opinion that the best option for our Sheriff’s Office right now is to move their law enforcement operations to the Krowse Building,” Blumert said. “Being a county-owned facility, the move will be seamless and less expensive. It is almost move-in ready.” Blumert added, “We need to support the Sheriff’s Office during this transition out of the jail.”

The agenda item was deferred, as the language was not in keeping with the District Attorney’s standards for agendas. Which, let me tell you, I have a lot of opinions about.

Juvenile Funding

An item regarding funding for the Oklahoma County Juvenile Detention Center came before the Board and was moved to Executive Session.

When the Board returned to public meeting they passed the item at a rate of $101.70 per day for 60 beds for Fiscal Year 2019-2020. As this is a leap year, that rate amounts to $2,333,332.00 for the term of the funding agreement.

Executive Session

Today’s Executive Session lasted for almost two hours, which is not commonplace for this meeting. In addition to funding for the Juvenile Detention Center, the Board considered items related to the employment and/or salary of Facilities Manager Keith Monroe, as well as three lawsuits.

The first of the lawsuits names the BoCC, Sheriff P.D. Taylor and former Sheriff John Whetsel, as well as some Corrections Officers. The suit regards the death of Charlton Cash Chrisman while incarcerated at the County Jail. (Link to the case is here: https://www.leagle.com/decision/infdco20180910b13#)

The second lawsuit concerns the death while in custody of Maurice Pendleton and names the BoCC broadly and each of the Commissioners seated at the time of Pendleton’s death, as well as the Sheriff. I’ve read the initial pleading of this case and it is brutal.

Since these items were heard during Executive Session we don’t know what was discussed there. This reporter did watch a couple of unfamiliar persons enter Executive Session with the Board, and knowing that the County has contracted outside counsel for some parties to the suits, the principles of detection indicate that the Board heard information regarding those suits from outside counsel during this very long Executive Session.

The next meeting of the BoCC is on Wednesday, January 22.

move
The Krowse Building at NE 36th Street and Martin Luther King Avenue is owned by Oklahoma County and currently sits empty. (Brett Dickerson/Okla City Free Press)

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